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In 2018, voters approved a ballot initiative that imposes criminal liability against a person who stores an unlocked firearm in a place where he or she knows or should know that a person who is ineligible to possess firearms may gain access to it if the person does gain access and uses the firearm (effective July 1, 2019). The penalty imposed is significantly greater if someone dies or suffers great bodily injury as a result of the prohibited person gaining access to the firearm.1

These laws do not apply if any of the following is true:

  • The firearm was kept in a locked container or secured with a trigger lock
  • The firearm is used with the parent’s permission, and with adult supervision
  • The prohibited person obtains and uses the firearm in lawful self-defense
  • The firearm was obtained as a result of unlawful entry and theft, and the theft is reported within 5 days of when the owner should have known that the firearm had been taken

The initiative also requires licensed dealers to offer to sell or provide a gun safe or lock with every firearm transfer and to post a warning that criminal liability may result in storing a firearm unlocked.2


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  1. Washington Proposition 1639.[]
  2. Id.[]